A Short Story by Remontz
If you’ve not read the first two parts of this series, stop here and read them:
“…please know they deserved it. They deserved all of it.”— quote from Among Us II
The thrumming helicopter blades dragged D’Amber from the neck cramping, slob inducing nap. She stretched her neck from side to side, scoffing at the very idea of being shuttled in the flying machine. What a mockery of who she was. The shackles around her ankles and wrist clanged as she jostled for a more comfortable position amongst the others. Although strapped shut against her core, her wings bumped and pressed the unlucky two who sat beside her. There were four of them all together. Former humans who at some point in their lives had all ascended, developing unbelievable traits and/or abilities; only to now be degraded to nothing more than tools and weapons. Forced to fight a war in which the elites funded both sides. The endless war games of the rich and powerful had no limitations.
To her right sat one of the privatized soldiers, gripping his weapon tightly; unsure and uneasy of the group he was being paid handsomely to deliver. His sweat was due more to his fear than the one-hundred and five degree day they were all berated by. He constantly fidgeted against D’Amber’s wings, uncomfortable at every brush against them. The concern he had over the metallic wing-restrainer’s ability, continued creasing his face into a mix of disgust and terror. D’Amber could sense his racing heart; Its quickening beat was dangerous with a weapon under its command.
Glowing and tense against her left wing was Nightlight. The mute been given his nickname, not only for his extremely introverted nature, but more so for his gifted bioluminescent skin. He could literally shine on command. So he had been showing the entire day; Nightlight had refused to dim a single wavelength since before they’d left the helipad in Taji. D’Amber assumed he was determined to produce enough heat from his light to burn through the tungsten-diamond alloy shackles. Highly unlikely, but even if he did succeed it’d be all for nought if he didn’t have plan for dealing with the shock collar. The determined introvert continued to strain every drop of his power, illuminated the interior of the helicopter.
“Quite a tool, that one is. Eh?” The Aussie, spoke up trying to get D’Amber’s attention. He was known and famous around the world as the Ascendant who cured the common cold. Of the four of them he had the most passive gift; any illness his body beats naturally gives him the power to heal that same disease in any who he touches. As the outstanding human being he is, he went into business as a TV pastor “healing” patrons and collecting tax free dollars.
“If anyone’s a tool here, it’s you.” The wittier one of the quartrett, Jaxson, was gifted with superhuman speed. He explains it as just slowing down time, but to the observing eye he appears to move near light speeds. He yanked hard against the chains that binded he and the dollar-made reverend. “Why don’t study some scriptures or something, let us ponder our own demise in peace.”
“Mind yourself kiddo…” The Aussie started, “My power works both ways y’know…”
The young soldier next to D’Amber shuddered at that.
“Are you saying you can give people diseases?” She asked.
“Ah…” the Aussie’s eyes brightened, “…so the angel speaks as well?”
“You gonna answer her or just grin like the fool you are?” Jaxson interjected.
The Aussie scoffed, “Yes, love. I can do just that…” he carried his grinning gaze from D’Amber towards Jaxson before continuing. “And much, much more if I’m annoyed enough…”
Unaltered by the threat Jaxson sneered back, “Bluff…”
They shuffled forearms as the Aussie raised up trying to initiate a fight with Jaxson; before D’Amber’s eyes or reaction could adjust Jaxson appeared behind the Aussie on the opposite side of the bench choking the aggressor with their shared chain.
The shook soldier beside her began to raise his rifle; reacting quickly she pressed the muzzle down, gently but firmly. Soothing his fear with her calmness, bullets being fired within the aircraft they all sat on was the last thing they needed. His childlike eyes beamed into hers with that understanding.
Only moments later the Commander of the privatized team leaned back from the co-pilot seat, wielding a small remote and shocked them both into submission.
“Welcome to your new home freaks…” the Commander barked back to them, as the chopper descended. “Good ol’ Camp Liberty…”
The talkative leader continued to describe their new surroundings but D’Amber couldn’t comprehend a word beyond the dust and sand that began to invade all of her senses. She had thought the last camp was the dustiest place on Earth but as the helicopter landed she realized just how wrong she was. Even as the blades whirred to a stop, she saw that everything was immediately covered in an everlasting coat of dusty grime. Camp Liberty literally hugged them on arrival, great. Home sweet home.
They were escorted past more Clear-Sky (private mercenaries) soldiers and some actual military members, towards a massive military-tan vehicle. It reminded her of the trailers livestock were transported in. Smelled even worse. The two pairs of chained weaponry were pushed into the back; again everyone cramped against the space D’Amber’s wings longed for. There were no words spread between them before the double-doors clanged shut; save for Nightlight still concentrating on burning his chains, they would be in complete darkness.
“This isn’t getting anything over three-stars from me…” Jaxson joked, dragging the Aussie nearer to Nightlight’s glow.
D’Amber didn’t have any other choice but to be illuminated by the silent lightbulb. Although she did let a small laugh out at Jaxson’s joke she was determined to mantain a serious attitude given their circumstances. That was a hard task given the group she was presently stuck with.
They jostled and swayed constantly, apparently the heavy military vehicle manufacturers were not too concerned with investing in suspension. Every bump sent them either into the walls or each other; and there were many bumbs en route to wherever they were going.
As they traveled D’Amber began to focus on her breathing. She had spent many moons under the tutelage of Ethiopian herbsmen a year ago and had developed a strong practice of meditation — she had come to find it the most helpful solution during stressful times. Stress was more common than any other emotion given her self-defined role as protector of the weak.
Jaxson occupied himself by humming a meditation-blocking tune. Not only was he being obscenely loud, it was even more infuriating that he was not even rythmically capable of sustaining the tune.
The Aussie stood face to face with Nightlight, staring at the quiet sole’s closed eyelids as he strained to glow brighter and brighter.
They were an odd group, forced together under derest. D’Amber could not envision anything good or wholesome coming of this gathering.
D’Amber thought back to the day her wings finally succeeded in pulling her into her destiny; although it was a day masked by heartbreak, she had come to the realization that it was for the good of all those she saved. She had decided years ago that she would not waste the powers she’d been given. Once driven by their own responsibility to deliver her where she needed to be, she now had full control over her wings; she could still feel them “talking” to her, but the relationship was more symbiotic than parasitic at this point in her life. The dust and heat of the prison she now found herself reminded her of fonder memories when the wings dragged her away from Doctor Williams and delivered her at the steps of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. She was trasnformed and her destiny revealed in an astro-spiritual experience that she tried to immulate and find whenever she meditated.
“C’mon mate!!!” the Aussie broke into everyone’s peace as he yelled at Nightlight. “What’s the deal with this one?”
“Concentrating…” Jaxson opened a single eye to answer in a sarcastic tone, “…by the looks of it I bet he’d like to be left alone…”
“Yeah…n well I’d like a stra-burry cone!” The Aussie replied as he began thumping Nightlight’s forehead.
D’Amber stepped between Nightlight and the Aussie, her wings outstretching, slow and intimidating, their presence began to fill the width of the trailer.
“Madam…”, the Aussie paced backward with his eyes glued to D’Amber’s wings and his hands upraised, until he stumbled into the equally unamused Jaxson.
The wings collapsed under her command and D’Amber reached down to grab the restraining device. She reseated it into it’s former position, holding her gift back once again.
Fifteen more silent minutes passed before they’re rough trip came to a stop. The four of them all fell away from the door as the truck came to an abrupt stop.
“Out!!”, the doors flung open as a native ClearSky employee yelled at them with one of the few English words he knew. “Out. Out. Go…” he hurried them out of the truck and quickly shuffled back to the cab, speeding off.
D’Amber watched as the truck passed through three separate gates, distancing itself as far away from them as fast as it could.
“Over here…” called out another ClearSky employee. A fence separated them from the caller. They shuffled their chained feet towards the man quickly after he shook a ring of keys over his head.
“What is this?”
“Where are we?”
“Who’s in charge?”
Their questions went ignored as the guard unbinded them in silence.
The very second the Aussie’s chains dropped to the sand he broke out in a run in the direction the truck had sped off.
D’Amber took note as the guard didn’t do so much as flinch.
The Aussie’s body burned to a crisp as his hand reached out for the fence. Nothing but a pile of ashes and the ClearSky shock collar remained of him after the the gate did its job of keeping him inside its perimeter.
“Anyone else?” Called another guard.
The three remaining ascendandts were frozen in unbelief.
“Let’s go…” the guard ordered.
D’Amber’s eyes had never been more open, her mind never more made up as they entered the compound. There were hundreds of them. People just like her and the others, all Ascendants. All gifted in one way or another.
For weeks they ate and trained together. Helped one another hold onto sanity and counter indoctrination by sharing stories and getting to know one another. Compared thoughts on escape and consoled those who saw no escape in sight.
They became family. They became the Ambers. A name given to them by the ClearSky Guards who felt that Ascendants was too great a title for scum such as the kenneled weapons.
From time to time they were individually ‘signed’ out. Forced to engage in combat against anyone who ClearSky deemed an enemy. Those who refused in battle never returned to the camp. The others did their best to keep their names alive, as legends and heroes.
D’Amber cried herself to sleep the day Nightlight did not return. She didn’t know much of anything about the man besides that he was gifted like her, that mattered not, he had become a brother to her.
It would be three months before D’Amber was summoned to fight. To be the weapon of choice for the day. Apparently ClearSky had a need for a winged woman.
She would later write in her journal: “I had even asked before it became a serious problem: who the soldier was? He just kept pacing. We were hunkered behind the trench, the resistors Hs the high-ground. They had had us pinned down for three days at that point, so maybe he felt complacent. I still don’t know. The story I keep hearing is that the resistors’ radio towers were causing earaches in all the soldiers. Apparently the only reprise this man could find was in packing back and forth. Long story short. The sniper found him. When you read about what happened in our history books, I was not a traitor. They deserved it. They deserved all of it.”
As the soldiers body fell limp to the ground, she saw his eyes. Amber. Just like hers. He had been an Ascendant. Her anger burned for the man’s killer’s, until she heard the soldiers beside her echo coordinates of the sniper into their radios. The truth donned on her….they had used him. Forced him to be bait, so they could fight their pointless fight.
In anger she burst into the air; rocketing higher and higher. Higher than she’d ever gone. She fought against the shocking collar with all her might until, “CRACK”, it froze and broke under her fingers. D’Amber immediately angled down, back towards the battlefield.
She swooped down like a bird of prey picking up an enemy soldier with a speed far beyond what their reaction times could even consider. She flew up until the altitude and speed caused him to lose consciousness and that’s when she saw it. The missing link to all of the madness. The man’s eyes….were Amber. They were fighting their own. Forced to fight their own. Though these men who they thought were the enemies had no powers it was undeniable proof who they really were.
Excerpt from the foreword of “The Journal of D’Amber Lyons, by Gary Cartwright”:
…D’Amber set the man down gently away from the fight and then proceeded to slaughter each and everyone of the ClearSky soldiers. The Ascendants were freed from their bondage that day. By her hands. And the tide of the war shifted drastically with the Amber’s under their command. You’re not going to learn that in school, they don’t want you to know they weren’t the good guys…
The Legend Continues, Check out AMONG US IV
Copyright © 2020 Kacy Gilbert (Writing as Remontz)
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